POLICING IN THE TERRITORIES
REPORT ON A PUBLIC CONSULTATION PROCESS
Scott Clark Consulting Inc.
Executive Summary i
1.1. Background 1
1.2. Government of Canada Policing Policies 2
1.3. Issues Addressed in the Consultations 3
1.4. Territorial Approaches to the Consultations 4
1.4.1. Yukon 4
1.4.2. Northwest Territories 5
1.4.3. Nunavut 6
1.4.4. Limitations to the Process 7
1.5. Structure of the Report 8
2. Background: Policing in Territorial Communities 9
2.1. Policing in the Territories: Some Basic Facts 9
2.1.1. Yukon 9
2.1.2. Northwest Territories 9
2.1.3. Nunavut 10
2.2. Agreements on Policing 11
2.2.1. Territorial Police Service Agreement 11
2.2.2. Aboriginal Community Constable and Inuit Policing Programs 12
2.2.3. Framework Agreement in the Yukon 12
2.2.4. Liard First Nation Policing Agreement 13
2.2.5. Teslin Tlingit Diversion Protocol 13
2.3. Detachment Responsibilities 14
2.4. Community Policing 14
3. Community Perceptions: Crime, Safety and the RCMP 16
3.1. Introduction 16
3.2. Perceptions of Crime 16
3.3. Perceptions of Safety 17
3.4. Overall Community Views on Policing Services 17
3.5. Additional Challenges and Concerns for Communities 19
3.5.1. Inadequate Community Programs 19
3.5.2. Loss of Parenting Skills 19
3.5.3. Loss of Culture and Respect for Elders 20
3.5.4. The Youth Justice System and the Courts 20
4. Community Views on Policing Services 21
4.1. Introduction 21
4.2. Crime Prevention 21
4.2.1. Visibility 21
4.2.2. Public Awareness and Involvement 22
4.2.3. Police – Youth Relations 23
4.2.4. Preparing for the Pipeline 24
4.3. Community Safety 24
4.3.1. Response Time 24
4.3.2. Drug Trafficking and Illegal Drug Use 25
4.3.3. Alcohol Abuse: Bootlegging and Underage Drinking 27
4.3.4. Spousal Assault and Sexual Assault 28
4.3.5. Property Offences 30
4.3.6. Impaired and Dangerous Driving 31
4.4. Communications 31
4.4.1. Accessibility 31
4.4.2. RCMP-Community Relations 32
4.4.3. Social and Cultural Awareness 33
4.4.4. Accountability to the Community 34
4.4.5. Excessive Use of Force 35
4.4.6. Public Complaints 35
4.5. Community Justice 35
4.5.1. Diversions to Community Justice Committees 35
4.5.2. Communications and Cooperation 36
4.6. Police Roles and Priorities 36
4.6.1. Standards and Selection of Officers 36
4.6.2. Length of Postings 37
5. Summary of Findings and Main Messages 39
5.1. Introduction 39
5.2. Crime Prevention 39
5.3. Community Safety 40
5.4. Communications and Accessibility 42
5.5. Community Justice 43
5.6. Police Roles and Priorities 43
The community consultations on policing in the territories is an initiative of the three
territorial Departments of Justice and the Department of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness Canada. The territories jointly contracted with Scott Clark Consulting Inc.,
an independent company with experience in northern community policing and justice
issues, to hold community consultations and to report on the findings. The RCMP lent
support to the project as requested by the territories.
The overall purpose of the consultations as agreed by the territories and Canada is to
“increase awareness and seek input on matters related to community safety.” While there
are similarities among the three territories, there are also differences that were taken into
account in the consultation process. In Yukon, for example, several First Nations view
the connection between policing and community justice, on one hand, and self
government and devolution, on the other hand, as critical. At this time these issues are
not as critical in the Northwest Territories and are not likely to arise at all in Nunavut.
Generally, the territories view the process as an opportunity to inform communities, get
feedback, and develop programs with respect to policing and community involvement.
The twenty-year Territorial Police Service Agreement between the Government of
Canada and each of the territorial governments expires in 2012. In anticipation of that
date and the need to ensure the timely preparation for new arrangements, the territories
are viewing the consultation process as providing valuable insights. Therefore, the
consultations are also intended to provide a starting point for the territories to evaluate the
model of policing currently operating in the North, and possibly to develop a new model
that could be used as the basis for discussions with the federal government.
To that end, each territorial Department of Justice previously received from the
consultant a report specifically respecting that territory. The current report is a synthesis
of the three territorial reports and the information gathered throughout the consultations.
It identifies common themes and unique issues with regard to policing in the territories.
The consultation process is the first comprehensive attempt to get community input on
territorial policing by an independent consultant. This is an important fact from the
perspective of all parties: the territorial governments, the federal government, the RCMP,
and, significantly, communities. It should be stressed that the findings derive from the
input provided directly by community members and others throughout the consultation
process. There was consistency in the views of community residents and others, such as
community service workers, who participated in the consultations. Similarly, RCMP
officers shared many of the same views. The resulting ideas are not from the consultant,
although the consultant did edit and organize the information gathered in the
consultations in order to produce a manageable report.
The report does not reproduce the narrative that came from the many consultations and
meetings held throughout the territories. This would have been lengthy, repetitive, and
would have confused the important ideas that were raised. In the interest of clarity and
practicality, the report is a synthesis of the information that was provided in the
consultations. The report attempts to include the messages participants wanted conveyed,
particularly the community-level participants. However, certain specific problems and
examples are not included in the report. These omissions may be for reasons of
confidentiality, or because they do not add to the larger ideas that are covered.
Individuals should not read the report with a view to finding their own experiences in
1.2 Government of Canada Policing Policies
The policing arrangements currently in place in the territories have not changed for many
years. In other parts of the country, however, innovative arrangements between the
provinces, First Nations and the Government of Canada have been implemented. These
arrangements, which take various forms, are covered by the First Nations Policing Policy
(FNPP) of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. The
Government of Canada describes the First Nations Policing Policy in the following way:
In June 1991, the federal government introduced the First Nations Policing Policy
(FNPP) in order to provide First Nations across Canada with access to police
services that are professional, effective, culturally appropriate, and accountable to
the communities they serve….The FNPP operates on the principle of partnership
to negotiate tripartite agreements for police services that are responsive to the
particular needs of each community.
The purpose of the First Nations Policing Policy is to contribute to the
improvement of social order, public security and personal safety in First Nation
communities. This is accomplished through cost-shared funding arrangements
between the federal and provincial/territorial governments. First Nations
communities may choose to develop and administer their own police service, or
they may choose a police service delivered by a contingent of First Nations
officers working within an existing police force (e.g. the RCMP). The FNPP is
implemented across Canada through tripartite agreements negotiated among the
federal government, provincial or territorial governments and First Nations. The
Policy applies to all Indian reserves, to certain other Indian communities on
Crown land and to Inuit communities, and is designed to give First Nations
communities greater control over the delivery and management of policing
services in their communities.1
The types of agreements that are possible under the FNPP vary from an arrangement
whereby a First Nation has its own dedicated contingent of officers from an existing
police service, to a First Nation managing its own police service under provincial (and
Solicitor General of Canada, 1996. First Nations Policing Policy.
perhaps territorial) legislation with an independent police commission providing
oversight for the self-administered police service. The Liard First Nation in Watson
Lake, Yukon is the only community in the three territories that is currently policed under
an FNPP arrangement.2
It is the First Nations Policing Policy – or some equivalent suited to the North – that the
three territorial governments are interested in exploring. The community consultations
are a first step in that exploration process.
1.3 Issues Addressed in the Consultations
People who took part in the consultations identified a number of issues. These can be
broadly categorized in the following way:
Perceptions of crime and public safety: Views on the problems facing communities are
important in understanding communities’ expectations and wishes regarding the policing
services they receive. However, the problems identified by community members are not
always matters that the police are directly responsible for addressing. It is important to
recognize that all social issues are interrelated in small communities. Poor attendance
rates at school, for example, is not directly a police issue; but it can be symptomatic of
something police could address, and it may be a forewarning of serious problems to
come. All professional workers in the communities, including the RCMP, should be
aware of the range of issues facing communities.
Views on policing in the territories: The information gathered in the consultations refers
mainly to issues of crime and safety, crime prevention, community justice, and police-
community relations. Consultation participants’ views of the policing services provided
by the RCMP in the territories vary widely, from seriously lacking to extremely effective.
When trying to understand the formation of community views, it is important to
recognize that community and individual expectations are relevant. Similarly,
community members’ understanding of the role and responsibilities of the police, as well
as the limitations under which the police operate, all affect community views.
What is working and ways to address the issues: Participants in the consultations were
encouraged to identify what was working well with respect to the policing in their
communities, and to build on those ideas when trying to identify solutions to the
shortfalls. People were also asked to be creative in their thinking about how to solve
their community problems, whether or not the problems concerned the policing service
Agreement among Canada, the Government of the Yukon Territory, and the Liard First Nation for the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) First Nations Community Policing Service (FNCPS).
1.4 Territorial Approaches to the Consultations
Each territory chose a different approach to acquiring community input. In large part this
was due to the varying costs of travel among territories. In Nunavut, for example, the
substantial distances between communities and the high cost of air travel precluded
travelling to every community. The same challenge faced the NWT, while Yukon
communities, except for Old Crow, are all accessible by road and therefore relatively
inexpensive to visit.
In Yukon, the decision was made to visit every community. The Yukon communities
o Beaver Creek
o Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay3
o Dawson City
o Haines Junction
o Old Crow
o Pelly Crossing
o Ross River
o Watson Lake
The Yukon Department of Justice advertised in advance an open community session in
every locale (three in Whitehorse and surrounding area). A consultation session was then
held in each community, usually in the community hall or at the local school, and
facilitated by the consultant. Separate meetings were held between the consultant and
local authorities and service providers, either as individuals or in groups. These included
First Nation Chiefs and Councils, Mayors and Town Councils, local RCMP members,
social workers, nurses, school principals, probation officers, Community Justice
Committees, Community Justice Committee Coordinators, women’s shelter workers,
victim service workers, addictions counsellors, and others. One or two Yukon Justice
officials attended all community sessions and other meetings, and local RCMP members
attended the community sessions.
The sessions with RCMP members in the local detachments were informative. In many
cases, officers shared the concerns expressed by community residents in the open
consultation sessions. On other issues, officers were able to provide a different
The Burwash Landing consultations included Chief and Council and social service workers, as well as an
open community meeting. In Destruction Bay, which is also served by the Haines Junction Detachment,
the consultation only involved the nurse at the local nursing station.
perspective that reflects the realities within which they must work. These views are
contained in the report. Discussions were also held with senior management in “M”
Division Headquarters. These discussions provided insights to the objectives and
operations of the RCMP in Yukon.
Meetings were also held with Yukon Government officials from various departments
with an interest in issues related to policing. Similarly, discussions were held with
Justices representing the Yukon Territorial Court and the Yukon Supreme Court, as well
as representatives of the legal community.
A survey form was designed specifically for the Yukon and was made available to the
public in hard copy and electronically on the Department of Justice website. Hard copies
of the form were distributed in the communities at the public meetings and were sent to
First Nations and Town Councils for distribution. One hundred and twenty-three
completed survey forms were returned to the consultant. The form was designed to be
anonymous. The results of the Yukon survey were considered by the consultant when
writing the findings of this report.
1.4.2 Northwest Territories
In the Northwest Territories, consultation sessions were held in five regional centres to
which community representatives were invited.4 Participants were invited on the basis of
their involvement with justice issues in their communities. For example, many
participants were members of the local Community Justice Committee. In the case of
several communities, the delegation included individuals who work on relevant matters in
the community, most often a social worker or the coordinator of the Community Justice
RCMP members from most of the detachments of the communities represented at each
consultation attended that particular session. NWT Department of Justice officials also
attended the sessions and facilitated the community break-out groups.
Consultation sessions were held in Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Norman Wells and
Fort Simpson. Community representation at the five consultation sessions was as
o Hay River
The Northwest Territories Department of Justice covered the travel expenses of community participants.
- Fort Providence
- Hay River
- Katlodeeche First Nation (Hay River Dene Reserve)
- Lutsel K’e
- Fort McPherson
- Sachs Harbour
o Norman Wells
- Colville Lake
- Fort Good Hope
- Norman Wells
o Fort Simpson
- Fort Liard
- Fort Simpson
- Jean Marie River
- Nahanni Butte
- Trout Lake
In Nunavut, consultation sessions took place in a number of selected communities to
which representatives from other communities in the region were invited.5 Participants
were invited on the basis of their involvement with justice issues in their communities.
For example, many participants were members of the local Community Justice
Committee. In the case of a few communities, the delegation included individuals who
work on relevant matters in the community, most often a social worker or the
Coordinator of the Community Justice Committee.
RCMP members from the detachments of the communities where the consultation
sessions were held attended that particular session. Nunavut Department of Justice
officials also attended the sessions and assisted in facilitating.
Consultation sessions were held in ten communities, including Iqaluit. The following list
indicates the locations of the consultations, as well as the communities represented at
The Nunavut Department of Justice covered the travel expenses of community participants.
o Baker Lake
- Baker Lake
- Chesterfield Inlet
o Cambridge Bay
- Cambridge Bay
o Cape Dorset
- Cape Dorset
o Gjoa Haven
- Gjoa Haven
- Hall Beach
o Pond Inlet
- Arctic Bay
- Clyde River
- Grise Fiord
- Pond Inlet
- Resolute Bay
o Rankin Inlet
- Coral Harbour
- Rankin Inlet
- Repulse Bay
- Whale Cove
1.4.4 Limitations to the Process
If the process could be said to have a limitation, it would be that not all territorial
residents were able to provide input. In Yukon, while consultation sessions were held in
every community, they were only held once with no return visit by the consultant. For
those individuals who might have been away or otherwise indisposed at the time, the
opportunity to participate in person may have been lost. Questionnaire forms were made
available in hard copy and on the Internet in Yukon, thus providing another way for
individuals to express their views. However, it is probable not everyone was able to
access the questionnaire. In the NWT and Nunavut, participation from many
communities was by invitation because representatives from communities had to fly into
the consultation locations. (However, everyone who showed up was welcomed to
While the community sessions in Yukon were advertised, some were not well attended.
Similarly, in the NWT and Nunavut, because of the need for most participants to travel to
the sessions, attendance was limited. With those qualifications stated, community
participants from the three territories freely expressed their views on community needs
and the policing services they receive.
The consultations took place over an eighteen month period in 2004-05. In some cases,
concerns expressed during that time have subsequently been addressed by the RCMP
1.5 Structure of the Report
Section 2 briefly provides background information on the RCMP Divisions in each of the
territories. Various agreements between the Government of Canada and the Territorial
Governments are described, as is the unique (for the territories) agreement regarding
policing for the Liard First Nation. General responsibilities at the detachment level are
outlined, as is the RCMP community policing policy.
Section 3 addresses community perceptions of crime and public safety, and overall views
of the RCMP. Section 3 also covers additional community challenges and concerns.
These are the challenges that territorial communities face on an ongoing basis and that
could be categorized generally as social problems. They do not necessarily refer directly
to the RCMP, but are important in understanding specific problems the police and other
community-based professionals must face in doing their jobs.
Section 4 addresses the views of community residents and others who participated in the
consultation process. This Section is structured according to the general areas of crime
prevention, community safety, communications, community justice, and police roles and
priorities. As well, the views of consultation participants on ways to address concerns are
laid out in Section 4.
Section 5 contains a summary of the main messages regarding policing in the territories.
These messages derive from a synthesis of the extensive information and views provided
by community members and others who took the time to participate in the consultations.
2. BACKGROUND: POLICING IN TERRITORIAL COMMUNITIES
2.1 Policing in the Territories: Some Basic Facts
The Territorial Police Service Agreement is an agreement between the Government of
Canada and each of the three territories that provides for the majority of RCMP policing
services in each territory. The twenty-year agreement, which ends on March 31, 2012,
covers several major aspects of policing, described below for each territory.
• The cost-shared arrangement for policing requires the Government of Canada to
cover 30 percent of the costs, while the Government of Yukon covers 70 percent. The
Yukon Government is spending approximately $12 million on policing services in the
2005-06 fiscal year. This is approximately 30 percent of the annual budget of the
Yukon Department of Justice.
• Divisional Headquarters (“M” Division) is located in Whitehorse and thirteen
detachments of varying sizes are located throughout the territory in Beaver Creek,
Carcross, Carmacks, Dawson City, Faro, Haines Junction, Mayo, Old Crow, Pelly
Crossing, Ross River, Teslin, Watson Lake, and Whitehorse.
• In 2005 there were 109 regular RCMP officers, four Special Constables, 16 civilian
members, and 33 public service employees working as part of the RCMP effort in
Yukon. The ratio of officers to citizens in the territory is 1:257.
• As outlined in the contract (see below), the Minister for Yukon Justice sets the
priorities and goals for the RCMP police service in Yukon each year. In 2003-04, the
Minister, in consultation with “M” Division, developed a strategic plan with the
following priorities for policing in the territory:
o Healthy communities
o First Nations policing
o Safety and security
2.1.2 Northwest Territories
• The cost-shared arrangement for policing requires the Government of Canada to
cover 30 percent of the costs, while the Government of the Northwest Territories
covers 70 percent. The GNWT is spending $23.969 million on policing services in
the 2005-06 fiscal year. This is approximately 30 percent of the annual O&M budget
of the NWT Department of Justice.
• Divisional Headquarters (“G” Division) is located in Yellowknife. Twenty-one
detachments of varying sizes, including Yellowknife, are located throughout the
territory. The detachments are organized under three Commanders: the Detachment
Commander Yellowknife, the District Commander North, and the District
Commander South. Detachments align as follows:
o Detachment Commander Yellowknife
Communities served: Dettah, N’Dilo, Gameti, Wekweti
o District Commander North
Detachments: Aklavik, Deline, Fort Good Hope, Fort McPherson,
Holman, Inuvik, Norman Wells, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour,
o District Commander South
Detachments: Lutsel K’e, Fort Liard, Fort Providence, Fort Resolution,
Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Behchoko, Wha’Ti.
• In 2005 there were 209 regular RCMP officers dedicated to territorial policing. As
well, “G” Division had four positions dedicated to First Nations policing, thirty-four
public service employees, and thirty-nine Auxiliary volunteers in ten detachments.
• In consultation with “G” Division, the GNWT Minister of Justice sets the priorities
for the RCMP police service in the NWT. In the last legislative session the GNWT
Minister set out the following priorities for policing in the territory:
o Working with the RCMP to build a representative police service;
o Working with federal Ministers to open more detachments in the NWT; and
o To further meet the NWT community needs and ensure public safety.
• The cost-shared arrangement for policing requires the Government of Canada to
cover 30 percent of the costs, while the Government of Nunavut covers 70 percent.
Nunavut is spending $20,927 million on policing services in the 2005-06 fiscal year.
This is approximately 37 percent of the annual budget of the Nunavut Department of
• Divisional Headquarters (“V” Division) is located in Iqaluit. Twenty-five
detachments of varying sizes, including Iqaluit, are located throughout the territory.
• In 2005 “V” Division had 110 regular RCMP officers dedicated to territorial
policing.6 As well, “V” Division had five members dedicated to other federal
programs, and six public service employees in support capacities in Iqaluit, Rankin
Inlet and Cambridge Bay.
• In 2004 there were 13,701 Criminal Code offences reported in Nunavut. Of that
total, 2,929 were crimes against the person, 2,451 were property crimes, and 8,321
were other types of crime such as drug, alcohol and serious traffic offences.7
• In consultation with “V” Division, the Nunavut Minister of Justice sets the priorities
for the RCMP police service in Nunavut. For 2005-06 the following priorities were
o Individual and community wellness
o Youth crime prevention
o Support for Community Justice Committees
o Reduction of family violence
o Implementation/delivery of a traffic safety program
o Accountability and superior service delivery.
This category is referred to by the RCMP as the “Contract/Inuit Policing Program. See 2004-05: The
Year in Review report by “V” Division.
“V” Division, 2004-05: The Year in Review.
2.2 Agreements on Policing
2.2.1 Territorial Police Service Agreement
Each territory is a party to a Territorial Police Service Agreement, which took effect on
April 1, 1992 in the Yukon and the NWT, and on April 1, 1999 in Nunavut. It was
signed by the respective territorial Ministers of Justice and Territorial Commissioners,
and the Solicitor General of Canada. The Agreements are in effect until March 31, 2012.
Under the terms of the Agreements, the RCMP is to provide policing services in each of
the territories with a certain number of personnel. This number could be changed with
the agreement of both parties.
The RCMP is obliged, according to the Agreement, to do the following in each territory:
a) perform the duties of peace officers; and
b) render such services as are necessary to
I. preserve the peace, protect life and property, prevent crime and offences
against laws of Canada and the Territory, apprehend criminals, offenders
and others who may be lawfully taken into custody; and
II. execute all warrants and perform all duties and services in relation thereto
that may, under the laws of Canada or the Territory, be executed and
performed by peace officers.
The Commanding Officer of each Division can also agree upon request from the
territorial Minister to provide assistance or special expertise temporarily to other police
agencies in the territory (although none exit at present).
In terms of management, the Agreement states:
The internal management of the Territorial Police Service, including its
administration and the determination and application of professional police
procedures, shall remain under the control of Canada.
It also states that “The [territorial] Minister shall set the objectives, priorities and goals of
the Territorial Police Service.” The priorities as currently set by the Ministers are listed
With respect to paying for policing services, generally each territorial government is
responsible for 70 percent of the total cost. This includes the direct costs of policing,
such as salaries, transportation, equipment, repairs, etc., as well as the indirect costs, such
as pension contributions for RCMP members, divisional headquarters administration,
recruit training, the computerized Police Information Retrieval System, and certain
accommodation for members.
The three Territorial Police Service Agreements are coming up for renegotiation and
possible renewal in 2012. The community consultations, in part, are intended to provide
information to the territorial governments and the RCMP as they prepare for that process.
2.2.2 Agreement for the Continuation of the RCMP Aboriginal Community Constable
Program / Inuit Policing Program
These Agreements were signed by the Solicitor General of Canada, the territorial
Ministers of Justice and the Commissioner of the RCMP. The Aboriginal Community
Constable Program, which is in place in the Yukon and the NWT, is designed to provide
at least one RCMP member in certain detachments to be dedicated to policing the First
Nation community(s) served by that detachment. In the case of Nunavut, the Inuit
Policing Program aims at placing as many Inuit officers as possible in the communities,
although not all Nunavut communities currently have an Inuit officer. The costs for the
officers in these programs are shared by Canada and the territories at 46 percent and 54
2.2.3 Framework Agreement for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) First
Nations Community Policing Service (FNCPS) in the Yukon Territory
This Agreement was signed by the Yukon Minister of Justice, the Solicitor General of
Canada and the Commissioner of the RCMP, and took effect on April 1, 2004. Yukon is
the only territory to have such an agreement at present. The Agreement sets the stage for
possible dedicated RCMP policing arrangements with specific First Nations or groups of
First Nations in Yukon. According to the Agreement, the RCMP is able to provide its
First Nations Community Policing Service to First Nations using a mechanism called
Community Tripartite Agreements (CTAs). The terms of each CTA could be unique to
the needs of each First Nation, as long as the Yukon Government and the RCMP agreed.
CTAs can give a certain degree of authority to First Nations in determining how the
police service would be provided to their community; however, certain minimum
standards of policing and law enforcement would always have to be maintained. The
costs for policing under a CTA would be shared on the basis of 52 percent by the
Government of Canada and 48 percent by the Yukon Government.
According to Article 8.1 (c) of the Framework Agreement, the assigned RCMP members
would be obliged to do the following under any CTA arrangement:
… ensure that all Members deployed through the RCMP FNCPS will devote one
hundred percent (100%) of their on duty time to the policing needs of the First
Nations with at least eighty percent (80%) of this time to be spent within the
boundaries of the First Nation Territory of those communities:
I. ensure that any on duty time spend by all Members deployed through the
RCMP FNCPS outside the boundaries of First Nations Territories will be
related to the handling of policing services for the First Nations except
where a specific Critical Incident occurs requiring an immediate short-
term response ….
The Liard First Nation at Watson Lake is the only First Nation in Yukon (and in all three
territories) to have entered a CTA. (See below.)
2.2.4 Agreement Among Canada, the Government of the Yukon Territory, and the Liard
First Nation for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) First Nations Community
Policing Service (FNCPS)
This Agreement essentially involves the Government of Canada and the Government of
the Yukon sharing the cost of policing in the Liard First Nation (52 percent and 48
percent, respectively), and the Liard First Nation taking on responsibilities for managing
the policing budget and providing certain levels of direction to the RCMP FNCPS.
Policing services are provided to the First Nation by four FNCPS dedicated officers from
the Watson Lake detachment, which is also responsible for non-First Nation policing in
the detachment area.
A Liard Police Advisory Board is responsible for working with the Watson Lake
Detachment to develop an annual operational plan. The plan is to identify the objectives,
goals and priorities for policing for the First Nation; identify special strategies for
addressing community issues; and identify crime prevention and other initiatives in the
community. Two other Police Advisory Board responsibilities are especially notable.
First, the Board can “identify desirable attributes for Members who may be considered
for assignment to the Liard RCMP FNCPA”; in other words, the Board can specify the
kinds of characteristics it wants in members who might be posted to the community. The
Detachment Commander receives this list. Second, the Board can work with the RCMP
“to develop an annual training plan for the Members of the Watson Lake Detachment
assigned to the Liard RCMP FNCPS….”
The RCMP is responsible for several sets of responsibilities under the terms of the
Agreement, including the attempt “to ensure that Members of the RCMP FNCPS
assigned to the Liard RCMP FNCPS are culturally compatible with the community….”
This clause, while explicitly stated only in the Liard First Nation Agreement, was a
particularly salient point in the community consultations.
2.2.5 Pre & Post-Charge Diversion Protocol between the Teslin Tlingit Council, Justice
Canada, the Yukon Government and “M” Division, RCMP
This Agreement is an example of the community justice protocols in place between
specific northern communities, the RCMP and the territorial governments. The Teslin
Tlingit Agreement which was signed in September, 2003, provides the opportunity for
the Teslin Tlingit Nation to exercise restorative justice approaches through its
Peacemaker Diversion Process. The process is based on the five Clans of the Teslin
Tlingit Nation taking responsibility for dealing with offenders and victims in certain
types of offences and under certain conditions. In pre-charge diversions, the RCMP
refers the cases to the Peacemaker Diversion Process; in post-charge diversions, it is the
Crown Prosecutor who makes the referral.
Many other First Nation communities in Yukon and the NWT, as well as communities in
Nunavut, have similar agreements with the RCMP and their territorial governments. In
the NWT and Nunavut, the local Community Justice Committee is the community level
body most often party to the Agreement.
2.3 Detachment Responsibilities
Smaller communities typically have from two to four RCMP members in the detachment,
while larger centres might have six or eight, and the cities of Whitehorse, Yellowknife
and Iqaluit significantly more. Some detachments have civilian clerks who assist with
administrative duties and phone calls during office hours.
Officers are responsible for a range of duties from patrolling the community to
investigating cases to preparing matters for Court. The number of offences in most
communities represents a substantial workload for police officers. Even in small
communities, individual RCMP members may carry a significant number of files at any
given time. Associated with all police activities is a substantial amount of paperwork that
officers say is increasing yearly. Community members and police officers alike believe
that the paperwork requirements interfere with officers’ ability to spend time in the
communities. In addition to the responsibilities just described, RCMP members are
expected to engage in the kind of activities that define community policing; i.e., engaging
with the community in recreational, social and crime prevention activities. In short, the
work demands are substantial but time and personnel are at a premium throughout the
2.4 Community Policing
The RCMP is committed to community policing throughout Canada, including the three
territories. This was confirmed by officers in each of the territories during the
consultation process. Community policing involves the following commitments by
o to work together with community authorities and agencies;
o to provide policing services in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner;
o to provide healthy alternatives, especially for youth;
o to be involved in the schools with a view to educating children about healthy
ways to live;
o to make regular, personal contact with as many community members as possible;
o to engage in the life of the community;
o to work with the community regarding public awareness and crime prevention;
o to maintain public safety and security.
The extent to which the RCMP is able to carry out its commitments to community
policing was a key question discussed in the consultations. Participants generally
appreciate the policing service they receive, however, certain components of community
policing, such as visibility and access, were often seen by communities and individuals to
be inadequately addressed.
Community participants in each territory expressed the view that the RCMP is the police
service of choice. While community members may have some concerns, they do not
want to lose their RCMP officers. However, it became clear in the community
consultations the RCMP faces a certain legacy of distrust and misunderstanding. The
reasons for this are complex and were not addressed in depth. However, adults often said
that as children their parents would point out the local police officer as someone
frightening and who should be avoided. These negative connotations have followed the
RCMP to the present. In many cases, officers have been able to establish relationships of
trust and respect with both youth and adults in a community. But, as community
participants pointed out, building those relationships requires interpersonal skills and
dedication on the part of the officer. In many communities RCMP members begin their
posting with a strike against them, at least in the eyes of a substantial number of
community residents. As residents see it, the job of each police officer is to work to
overcome the stigma and to engage in positive community policing. Many participants in
the consultations said the best place to begin is with the youth.
3. COMMUNITY PERCEPTIONS: CRIME, SAFETY AND THE RCMP
Consultation participants were asked to identify and discuss the most serious issues
facing their communities. The concerns are not necessarily directed at the RCMP. In
some cases, residents had specific concerns with RCMP policies or activities (e.g.,
problems in arresting drug traffickers). In other cases, however, participants said that a
particular problem was not a police issue or responsibility but that the community must
find solutions on its own (e.g., the loss of parenting skills). These issues form an
important background to the work of police.
3.2 Perceptions of Crime
Community residents are concerned about a range of crime problems. The concerns vary
somewhat by community and by territory; however, there was a high degree of
consistency expressed throughout the consultations. Community perceptions of the most
serious crime problems are listed below. In general terms, the list is based on the
frequency with which different types of crime were identified in the consultation
sessions, beginning with the crimes most frequently cited.8
The main points of variance were with respect to drug trafficking and illegal drug use.
This concern was expressed most frequently in the Yukon, although it was also raised
often in the other territories. Impaired driving and speeding are major concerns in the
Yukon, as they are in certain communities in the NWT (primarily those located on the
Dempster Highway). In Nunavut, however, the concern is not with car and truck drivers
as much as it is with the dangerous operation of snow machines.
The consultation process was not structured to allow the ranking of categories of crime.
However, it is reasonable to say that property crimes, alcohol related crimes, drug
trafficking and illegal drug use, and domestic violence were invariably raised as serious
community concerns. The most serious crime problems are seen as:
• property crimes
o break and enter
• alcohol abuse and related behaviour
o underage drinking
o impaired driving (all motor vehicles, including snow machines)
o creating a disturbance
The results of the Yukon survey are also factored into the list.
• drug trafficking and illegal drug use
• domestic violence
• sexual assault
• dangerous driving (mainly speeding; all motor vehicles, including snow
Community participants frequently expressed the view that alcohol and drug abuse
underlie much of the criminal and anti-social behaviour they witness in their
communities. In particular, property crime, domestic violence, assault, and creating a
disturbance are seen as directly linked to alcohol or drug abuse in almost every case.
Police generally agree with community assessments that substance abuse is strongly
linked to property crimes and personal violence.
3.3 Perceptions of Safety
Consultation participants in all three territories had somewhat differing views on personal
safety. Not surprisingly, age is a factor and elderly people generally feel less safe.
Among those for whom personal safety is an issue, the most commonly cited reason was
the perception that drug trafficking and illegal drug use have made communities more
dangerous. The rate of break and enter in homes, businesses and vehicles, for example, is
seen to have increased rapidly in recent years, almost exclusively because of drug abuse.
Drug users are perceived as desperate for cash or for goods that can be sold in order to
support their habits.
In several consultation sessions, residents said they no longer feel they can leave their
homes unattended, while only a few years ago they could be away indefinitely without
having to lock their doors. Now, even during the day, many residents (especially elders)
will rarely leave their houses for fear they will be broken into. For those individuals who
are not able to have a family member or another trusted community member house-sit for
them, it has become essentially impossible to leave home. The implications are serious
for people needing to travel for medical or other important personal reasons. The RCMP
agree the problem is as serious as residents are claiming. Again, the common perception
is that increased drug trafficking and use, as well as alcohol abuse, are the primary
reasons for the decline in community safety and security.
3.4 Overall Community Views on Policing Services
It was clear throughout the consultation process that for communities in the Yukon, the
NWT and Nunavut, the RCMP is the police service of choice. Accolades for the RCMP
were common. And while participants expressed concerns in some areas, it was rarely
said a problem could not be resolved by police and communities working together. In
some ways, this report might lead the reader to believe community members were only
critical of the RCMP. This was not the case. However, the emphasis is on the problem
areas as perceived by communities and others because it is these areas where additional
effort is required.
Many factors can affect the way an individual officer or group of officers are viewed by
the community in which they serve. A frequent comment in every territory was that “it
depends on the individual officer.” Most RCMP members are respected and viewed in a
positive light; however, in some instances, it appears this is not the case. Ways to
minimize negative relations between individual officers and the community are
discussed in this report.
From the perspective of the majority of consultation participants, the more important
questions concern the broader policies and procedures of the RCMP in the territories, not
the behaviour of individual officers. The areas where communities see improvements
needed are listed below. Note, however, that while concerns were raised regarding each
of the following issues, some were not viewed as seriously as others.
• Crime prevention
o working with children and youth
o preparing for the pipeline (in NWT)
• Community safety
o response time
o alcohol abuse: bootlegging and underage drinking
o drug trafficking and illegal drug use
o spousal assault and sexual assault
o property offences: break and enter; theft; vandalism
o impaired and dangerous driving
o accessibility of police officers
o RCMP – community relations
o social and cultural awareness
o accountability to the community
o excessive use of force
o public complaints
• Community justice
o numbers of diversions to Community Justice Committees (primarily in
NWT and Nunavut)
o communications and cooperation
• Police roles and priorities
o standards and selection of officers
o length of postings.
Each of the areas for improvement listed above is addressed in section four of the report.
Community expectations for the RCMP are high. RCMP members themselves say
communities are right to have tough requirements and standards, and that they are trying
to make sure communities’ expectations are met. However, police maintain a significant
challenge for the RCMP is budgetary. For example, while both community members and
police believe there is a shortage of officers at the detachment level, the RCMP points out
the resources are not currently in place to assign more officers to the territories.
Community members who understand this limitation often said in the consultations this is
even more reason for police and communities to work cooperatively.
3.5 Additional Challenges and Concerns for Communities
Communities face challenges that are not directly police responsibilities; however, these
issues have a direct bearing on the overall dynamics of the community, and they
influence the issues police must handle. The concerns described below inevitably arose
in consultations because of their significance to community residents in the three
3.5.1 Inadequate Community Programs
There is a common belief more recreational opportunities are essential in diverting youth
away from unhealthy lifestyles and crime. Similarly, the availability of programs such as
substance abuse counselling varies but such programs are perceived by community
residents to be lacking in many, if not most, communities. Women’s shelters are seen as
essential in protecting women and children, although they exist in few communities.
People generally see the development and maintenance of recreational and social
programs as a community responsibility (with government assistance). However, it was
made clear in the consultations in several communities that community members are not
making the required effort in this regard. The lack of community volunteerism is seen as
a serious problem.
Some RCMP officers in the territories are actively engaged in organizing or, at least,
participating in recreational activities for youth. As well, some officers are active in the
schools in terms of educating children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. While
community members would like to see more police involvement in this regard, they view
ongoing efforts positively.
3.5.2 Loss of Parenting Skills
This is not a policing issue; however, it affects the community context in which police
officers must work. Community respondents often cited the loss of parenting skills as a
serious problem. They say the loss results mainly from the traumatic impact of the
residential school experience on individuals’ lives, and the often related problems of
alcohol and drug abuse. During the consultations community members frequently cited
the need for families and communities to work together to address the range of problems
that underlie poor parenting, as well as the immediate problem of young parents who are
unequipped to raise their children in a healthy way. Residents noted government must
assist communities in their endeavours. In several consultations, participants also
indicated, while parenting is not a police responsibility, RCMP members should be aware
of and sensitive to contributing factors, such as the residential school experience.
3.5.3 Loss of Culture and Respect for Elders
Again, this is not directly a policing issue but was discussed often in the community
consultations. It is clearly related to the issues outlined in the point above – loss of
parenting skills, the residential school experience, and alcohol and drug abuse.
Community members also pointed out the loss of culture has resulted from the imposition
of non-Aboriginal culture over the last few generations. Most believe it is a community
responsibility to address the problem; however, awareness and sensitivity on the part of
the RCMP are important.
3.5.4 The Youth Justice System and the Courts
There is a range of opinion on this matter. However, the majority of consultation
participants in the three territories believe the youth justice system (the Youth Criminal
Justice Act) and the courts are too lenient on young offenders, particularly violent and
repeat offenders. Many participants pointed out communities do not have adequate local
programs for young offenders. These youth are simply left in their communities with no
punishment and no positive programming. Communities see this frequently leading to
habitual offending by youth and young adults. Participants recognized this is not a
problem that the RCMP can fix, but it is indicative of a broader frustration with the entire
justice system as seen by the communities.
4. COMMUNITY VIEWS ON POLICING SERVICES
This section of the report contains the views, both negative and positive, offered by the
consultation participants. It should be noted that while there was a significant degree of
consistency in views expressed throughout the consultations, there were also opinions
that did not correspond to the generally expressed messages. Those opinions are not
included here as they would have added detail which, in most cases, would not be helpful
to the overall report.
It is worth repeating there was an underlying consensus in the consultations that the
police cannot be expected to address and solve all the communities’ problems alone.
This applies especially to drug, alcohol and domestic violence problems. Each set of
problems will require effective communications and cooperative efforts among the
RCMP, the communities, and other stakeholder groups such as the courts, community
workers, and government departments and agencies.
4.2 Crime Prevention
It was made clear in every consultation session that community members think of police
visibility as both a crime prevention issue and a public safety issue. Residents do not see
police officers patrolling their community, especially at night, as much as they did in
former years. This belief appears to be particularly strong in Yukon and the NWT.
Participants say a decline in the number of patrols contributes to fear of being victimized,
especially among elders and people who live alone. There is a belief police officers
spend most of their time during the day in the detachment office and, in many cases, only
leave in response to a call or to perform some other duty such as attendance at a meeting.
At night, especially in the smaller communities, the detachment offices are normally
closed and the officers are at home. Residents would prefer to see them patrolling in
their vehicles more often during both day and night.
Evening and night patrols are seen as an effective way to deter bad behaviour, especially
among youth. The reasoning is that if someone is contemplating a break and enter, for
example, the possibility of police in the area will make that person think twice. Residents
also see patrols as a way for officers to make informal contact with community members.
Officers who take the time to chat with young people are seen as being more community
minded and possibly having a positive effect on youth. Residents in some communities
in Yukon and the NWT recommended officers patrol on bicycles or on foot in the
summer to make their presence felt and to connect more with the community.
In order to lower incidents of drinking and driving, many community members also want
police officers to be more visible in bars and bar parking lots at closing time. This idea is
described later in the report.
4.2.2 Public Awareness and Involvement
Public awareness and crime prevention are important aspects of the RCMP mandate,
especially in the context of community policing. Formal programs such as
Neighbourhood Watch and Citizens on Patrol (COPS) have been delivered by the RCMP
in some communities. Consultation participants generally spoke highly of these
programs because they provide an opportunity for the community to take responsibility
and to work with the police to protect the community, their families and themselves.
This is especially significant in light of community perceptions that break and enter, theft
and vandalism are getting out of hand. Residents see sanctioned participation by citizens
as an effective way to complement the efforts of an overburdened police service. The
difficulty from the community perspective is that the programs are now offered
infrequently, if at all.
RCMP officers place a priority on engaging with young people in the schools. Their
involvement can be formal, as in the presentation of the Drug Abuse Resistance Program
(DARE) to either senior or, more commonly, to junior grades. However, DARE and
other programs such as anti-bullying require the presenting officer to be trained and
certified in their delivery. Community consultations suggest the programs are seldom
delivered. The RCMP acknowledges the number of members with the required
accreditation is too low to meet the needs of communities.
Officers can also involve themselves in the schools on an informal basis by visiting and
chatting with children in their classrooms when invited by the teacher or principal. This
occurs frequently and is appreciated by students, teachers and parents. As participants in
the consultations said, speaking with children in school is an ideal opportunity for police
officers to build a relationship of understanding and, perhaps, to become a role model.
As well, it is another opportunity for officers to educate children regarding personal
safety and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Ultimately, the purpose of speaking to youth in the schools is to educate them about
crime and safety. This kind of engagement, while appreciated by communities to the
extent it occurs, was identified by consultation participants as deserving greater RCMP
commitment. Community residents in the three territories believe police engagement
with school children is a low cost activity with potentially high returns. RCMP members
also see the value in working with youth in the schools and some actively enjoy the
opportunity, although police say time constraints have a negative effect on the ability of
officers to get into the schools
4.2.3 Police – Youth Relations
Youth is a priority area for the RCMP and was raised consistently in the consultations as
an important issue. Positive interaction between police officers and youth is therefore
seen as essential in terms of the RCMP fulfilling its community policing mandates.
Young people have little to occupy them in most communities and RCMP members can
contribute through organizing and taking part in recreational activities. The involvement
can take various forms. In some cases the interaction is programmed and requires
organization and, possibly, financial resources. Examples include cadets, Girl Guides,
hunting and skiing trips, and trips to sports tournaments. In many cases RCMP members
have taken the lead in organizing these events with other adults in the community and
have accompanied the youth on the trips. At a more modest level, RCMP members in
many communities have organized Hallowe’en parties, bike rodeos and boat safety
demonstrations for youth. These are events consultation participants often held up as
good examples of police-youth relations. They have the double advantage of instructing
children on safety, and establishing a bond between officers and youth.
Consultation participants said they see RCMP members also engaging with the youth in
more informal ways such as coaching or playing hockey and basketball. This type of
activity is voluntary and generally takes place during officers’ off-duty time.
Community residents often said they see police-youth interactions occurring less
frequently than a few years ago. In many communities, in fact, consultation participants
shared the view that these kinds of activities never occur in their communities any more.
Residents recognize there may be budgetary restrictions and personnel shortages which
have prevented RCMP members from engaging the youth in recent years. However, the
shared community view is that when it does occur, police-youth activities are a healthy
way for young people to spend their time. As well, residents see these activities as an
opportunity for police officers to become part of the community and to gain the trust and
respect of youth. Community members believe establishing positive relations with youth
will result in lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse, and crime in general.
RCMP officers can also engage with youth on an informal, daily basis aside from
activities such as sports. Community participants said stopping to talk with young
people while patrolling the community serves two purposes. First, it tells the youth the
police are present and watching the community. Second, it establishes a personal link
between the officer and the individual young person. This is significant because it
indicates to the youth that the officer is aware of his/her identity – being nameless and
faceless is not possible if an officer knows one personally. Personal contact can also
establish a feeling of trust between the officer and the youth, if the relationship is
approached in a positive, respectful way. Several parents who spoke in the consultations
said their sons and, occasionally, daughters looked on a particular officer as a role model
and had expressed a desire to join the RCMP.
Community participants observed there appear to be various reasons why many officers
do not engage with the youth. It may be that some are simply not inclined to spend their
off duty time playing sports or organizing trips. In some cases these officers have young
families and want to spend time at home. Community members view these reasons for
non-involvement with the youth as legitimate. However, they also believe an officer can
still make personal contact and establish a bond of understanding with young people
while on patrol.
Finally, participants observed that two of the most common reasons for police not to
engage with youth appear to be workload and a shortage of officers at the detachments.
People feel increasing amounts of paperwork keep officers in the office more than in past
years. RCMP members say their ability to patrol and to maintain the desired level of
communication with youth and other community members has become increasingly
difficult. According to the RCMP, establishing and maintaining meaningful community
relations becomes unlikely in those circumstances.
4.2.4 Preparing for the Pipeline
Concern was expressed by participants representing several NWT communities in the
Sahtu, Deh Cho and Beaufort Delta regions that the pipeline would result in serious
problems for residents, particularly youth. RCMP representatives advised the consultant
the police are developing crime prevention and management plans. However, at the time
of the consultations, communities did not see the RCMP actively planning for the
pipeline and its impacts. Communities generally believe (a) the police have a
responsibility to be proactive in this regard, (b) working with the communities in
preparing for pipeline impacts would be an effective approach, and (c) the RCMP has a
responsibility to inform community residents regarding police plans.
4.3 Community Safety
4.3.1 Response Time
Response time is an important issue from the perspective of community members, as well
as the RCMP, and it arose frequently in the consultations. Many participants from all
territories spoke in positive terms of the efforts made by police to respond to calls in a
timely manner, day or night. However, many others cited instances when, in their view,
officers were slow to respond. These individuals spoke of having to wait one or two
hours for a police response and, in occasional cases, an officer did not appear until the
Some police officers stated in the course of these consultations that they use discretion in
responding to calls, especially after hours. In some cases an officer will telephone the
residence of the caller before responding, while others will attend immediately without a
phone call. The officer’s discretion is based partly on the nature of the call and partly on
his/her knowledge of the individuals involved and their domestic situation. This might
make some operational sense, but it was frequently cited as an example of insensitive and
RCMP protocol in responding to calls, particularly domestic calls at night, was not made
clear during any of the territorial consultations. If officers are using discretion in
responding, the basis for discretion (if any) does not appear to have been communicated
to the communities. Consultation participants view police protocol and response time as
serious concerns the RCMP could address through discussions with the communities.
4.3.2 Drug Trafficking and Illegal Drug Use
Consultation participants often indicated drug and alcohol abuse and related criminal
behaviour has increased significantly in the communities, especially in Yukon, in recent
years. Most communities from all territories indicated marijuana, cocaine, and crack
cocaine are available. There is serious concern that crystal methamphetamine has either
arrived or will arrive soon, especially in Yukon because of relatively easy road access.
RCMP members acknowledge drug trafficking and use are serious problems and are
linked directly to other forms of criminal behaviour throughout the territories.
Drug dealers in the communities, especially those who are community members, are well
known to residents and concern was expressed that organized crime is responsible for
supplying illegal drugs to northern communities. Community residents also commonly
link the presence of drug dealers to specific types of crimes such as break and enter, and
to an increase in violence in the communities.
Another issue of real concern to community residents is that the young people are in
danger of becoming involved in the drug trade, either as users or – in very serious cases –
as dealers. It is general knowledge that a significant number of youth are using marijuana
on a regular basis, but there is also concern youth are being exposed to harder drugs by
the dealers. The perception among many residents is that youth have become less
responsible and are frequently skipping school or dropping out altogether. In some cases,
young people are viewed as dangerous to other residents because of their involvement in
the drug scene.
Communities tend to see the drug problem as bad and getting worse due to perceived
increases in drug availability, the imminent arrival of crystal methamphetamine, the
increasing involvement of youth in drug usage, and increasing levels of violence among
those dealing drugs and between dealers and ordinary citizens. The police do not
disagree with this assessment.
Community workers such as social workers are also deeply concerned about drug abuse
and participants said they had seen an increase in recent years. They see the dangers,
especially for older youth, of becoming users, or even traffickers. As well, they are
concerned about the indirect effects of drug use on children, especially younger children.
Parents who are drug users are perceived by community workers as having diminished
interest and abilities to care adequately for their children. Further, social workers are
concerned about the level of violence that accompanies drug use, including in homes with
young children. They see a rise in incidents involving violence, particularly against
women, as well as an increase in the numbers of children requiring protection and other
forms of assistance. In these respects, social workers view the dangers associated with
drug use as comparable to the dangers of alcohol abuse for women and children. Social
workers are generally aware of the challenges facing the RCMP in making headway with
the problem of illegal drugs, but they share with others an uncertainty as to how to
address the problem in the immediate future.
There is a substantial degree of community frustration with the RCMP regarding the
problems associated with illegal drug use and trafficking. The most common perception
and frustration is that police are ignoring the drug problem. The reasoning of community
residents is this: Everyone in the community knows who the drug dealers are and where
they live. The dealer-buyer transactions are fairly obvious and residents know which
community members are making purchases. Drug houses are well known and are known
to be violent places. The police also have all this information. Therefore, why are the
police not doing more searches and making more arrests of local and out-of-town drug
It is also true that community residents, while very concerned about the drug problem, are
usually not willing to give evidence that would involve a statement and a possible court
appearance. This situation is acknowledged by RCMP officers, who feel limited in their
options, as well as by community workers. The reasons for community non-involvement
are fairly complex. First, people believe the police have the same knowledge – perhaps
more – than they do and so should be able to make arrests without the help of witnesses.
This suggests a lack of understanding as to how police are required to do their job in
terms of evidentiary procedure, searches, arrests and charging. Second, it was often
pointed out in community consultations that the social dynamics of small communities
make it difficult to take action anonymously. The high probability of being identified as
a witness is linked to fear of reprisal from drug dealers or their friends and families.
Most participants in the consultations could cite at least one instance of drug related
violence against someone in their community who was not a drug dealer or user. People
involved in the drug trade are seen – rightfully, according to the RCMP – to be
potentially violent and unpredictable. Third, in spite of the high level of concern about
illegal drugs, individuals are often reluctant to provide information to police because the
same individuals are related to the drug dealers. A feeling of family solidarity is strong
in the communities. Finally, residents occasionally expressed the view that the courts
were too lenient on drug dealers and, even if sent to court to face charges, dealers would
be back in the community very soon after. The risk of reprisal is therefore perceived to
be much too high relative to the likelihood of the problem being solved. These reasons
for non-involvement may at one level seem contradictory. They are, however, all reasons
given frequently by individual participants in the consultations.
The reluctance of community members to actively support police attempts to address the
drug problem is a source of real concern for the RCMP. However, while police officers
sometimes attempt to explain the legal process and the need for witness statements, it
appears this may not be done regularly or systematically. The level of community
misunderstanding about the operational requirements facing the police remains high. The
RCMP may therefore want to consider a program to educate community members in this
area. However, this is only one aspect of the challenge facing police and community
residents. Increased awareness about the need to provide statements would not lessen
(immediately, at least) residents’ fear of reprisal from drug dealers, nor would it
overcome the reluctance of people to provide statements against family members.
RCMP members see drug use as a serious and destructive problem for communities, and
increasingly, for young people. Police officers attempt to spend time in the schools
talking to students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, whether through the official
DARE program or on a more informal basis. The difficulty according to police,
however, is in finding the time for this kind of work in small detachments with limited
numbers of officers.
4.3.3 Alcohol Abuse: Bootlegging and Underage Drinking
Many community residents identified alcohol abuse and its related problems as serious
issues that have plagued their communities for a long time and that increasingly involve
youth. Residents generally do not see alcohol abuse per se as a police problem. The
actual phenomenon of alcohol abuse and certain related problems such as child neglect
are generally viewed as problems families and communities should address themselves.
However, the related issues of domestic violence, bootlegging, underage drinking, public
drunkenness and driving while impaired are aspects of alcohol abuse people often believe
should be addressed more proactively by police.
Bootleggers live in every community in the territories, according to consultation
participants, and, like drug dealers, bootleggers are known to community residents. Also
like drug dealers, they are perceived to be dangerous in many instances, and the fear of
reprisal affects the likelihood of residents working with the police to bring bootleggers to
Community residents are aware of the levels of violence associated with alcohol abuse.
Family violence is common in homes where heavy drinking occurs but most
communities do not have dedicated shelters for abused women and their children. Many
residents are concerned women are being hurt, but also that children may be neglected,
especially in homes where both adults engage in heavy drinking. The concern for
children’s long term well-being was raised frequently.
Consultation participants in every community are also increasingly concerned about
perceived increases in the level of drinking among youth, especially teens. Many
residents believe youth drinking leads to drug abuse. Drinking parties involving young
people are known to take place regularly, usually outside town (in Yukon and NWT).
The concern of residents in Yukon and NWT is not only that youth are developing
unhealthy habits, but when they attend drinking parties they drive – often while
intoxicated – to and from the community. Perhaps the biggest concern with teen
drinking parties is the level of violence that is believed to occur, particularly assault and
sexual assault. This issue was raised repeatedly in community consultation sessions,
especially in Yukon, as well as by elected officials and others in the communities. In
some communities, RCMP officers are aware of the date and location of youth drinking
parties and make their presence felt. Although they may not make an arrest unless a
serious incident occurs, they sometimes attempt to ensure young people, especially girls,
have a safe means of getting home. In some cases, officers will make the effort to break
up a party before it gets out of hand. In other communities, residents say the police do
not attempt to monitor the parties or make an appearance. Finally, with respect to youth
drinking, consultation participants frequently noted young people are buying alcohol
either directly from bootleggers or – in Yukon and NWT communities with liquor stores
or off-sales – from adults who buy for them. Again, community members usually know
who the suppliers are and believe that the police should be more actively monitoring the
situation and making arrests.
It should be noted that RCMP officers are active, to varying degrees, in some
communities in terms of drug and alcohol education (formal or informal) for school
children. These efforts are appreciated by community residents.
Consultation participants are also concerned about the extent of public drunkenness in
their communities. Residents can feel threatened by this kind of behaviour, whether the
intoxicated individual is in the open or is entering a public building such as the First
Nation or Hamlet office. In some communities, residents believe police officers are
effective in removing drunken individuals from public places; in other communities,
they see the police as too lenient with respect to public drunkenness. The latter approach
is believed to offer encouragement to heavy public drinking.
The concern with drinking and driving was raised often in the consultations. This issue
is discussed in section 4.3.6, below.
Community workers at the consultations unanimously viewed alcohol abuse as a serious
problem in every community across the territories. The levels of family violence
associated with heavy drinking, as well as the potential for child abuse and neglect,
suggests to social service workers that more local programming should be put in place to
support people in their efforts to stop drinking. These respondents also see a need for a
shelter for abused or threatened women and their children in every community. Neither
of these responses are the responsibility of police, although they might help to address
4.3.4 Spousal Assault and Sexual Assault
Community participants are concerned about domestic violence and police responses to
it. This is a difficult issue for individuals, families and communities, and one that police
officers acknowledge the RCMP has wrestled with since the implementation of the
mandatory charging policy in 1983. The issue is complicated because the views of
community members range across the spectrum. At one end are victims who want the
police to respond immediately to a domestic call but who do not want charges laid. As
they often say, they “just want the violence to stop.” At the other end of the spectrum are
those who want the police to respond immediately and to lay charges without question.
These community members often say repeat offenders should be sent to jail.
Three related concerns were expressed with some frequency in the consultations. First,
some community members cited instances when police were slow in attending a night-
time domestic call even after the central dispatcher had been contacted. Second,
communities are concerned about “dual charging.” A significant number of residents
indicated police are increasingly charging both parties to a domestic dispute when, in
fact, one participant is the perpetrator and the other a victim. Finally, community
respondents sometimes said male victims of domestic violence are not taken seriously by
police. It was also frequently acknowledged that men are less likely to report being
victimized because of the associated stigma.
Community workers are at the front line – along with police – with regard to domestic
violence. Like other community members and the RCMP, community workers are clear
that abuse is linked directly to alcohol and drug abuse. They see immediate and long-
term physical and psychological impacts on victims and, equally importantly, on the
children who are involved as victims or witnesses in incidents of violence at home.
Community workers and others in the consultations said that for many reasons, women
in abusive relationships often feel intimidated by police. In part, this may be due to a
legacy of mistrust of police officers in the past who demonstrated a dismissive attitude
towards abused women. They also said many women do not call police to report
domestic or sexual assault because they are aware of a community stigma against
reporting and pressing charges.
It was expressed in some consultations in each of the territories that police officers often
become frustrated with women repeatedly subjecting themselves to violent situations and
the failure of those women to follow-up with police on sending the perpetrator to court.
Participants frequently said the police view is simply: “Why don’t women just leave the
abusive relationship, or at least obey the court ordered no-contact restriction?” Many
community representatives believe police often become desensitized to the plight of
women victims, whether the issue is spousal abuse or sexual assault. While social
workers say that police officers are generally improving in this regard, there are still
officers they believe have become desensitized to abused women, especially repeat
callers. Social workers and representatives of women’s groups said that special training
for police officers on women’s issues, domestic abuse and sexual assault, and First
Nation and Inuit community dynamics would help to address the problem of possible
desensitization of officers.
Community workers share the view that more programs and facilities such as shelters are
needed to prevent domestic violence, to protect victims and children, to treat victims and
their children through physical rehabilitation and counselling, and to counsel offenders
who want to break the cycle of violence.
RCMP officers are obliged to lay charges in cases of domestic violence. Discretion is
more limited in this kind of incident than perhaps any other. The “mandatory charging
policy,” as it is called, has been in effect since 1983 and has not been reviewed in any
substantial way since its inception. As described above, however, police officers are
often challenged in the application of the policy. From the police perspective, relatively
few victims will agree to pursue charges in court. In other words, most victims in the
communities view the role of police as stopping the immediate abuse. This can be
frustrating for police officers who recognize the abuse will likely continue in the absence
of charges that would lead to trial and perhaps jail.
It must be stressed there is no evidence that RCMP officers are not taking domestic
violence seriously. However, it is possible there is some inconsistency with respect to the
protocol for attending domestic calls in terms of timeliness. It is also unclear if officers
are, in fact, laying charges in every domestic violence call, even when there are
reasonable and probable grounds for so doing. These are questions the communities
appear to want to discuss further with the RCMP.
4.3.5 Property Offences
Consultation participants commonly pointed out the offences of break-enter, theft and
vandalism have increased in the last few years. They often say that until recently no one
needed to lock their doors in the communities. Now, however, people in some
communities are reluctant to leave their homes unattended overnight. This means either
people do not leave the community, or they arrange for a house-sitter while they are
Residents attribute the problem of increased property offences to the illegal drug trade
and the increased use of drugs by local people. They maintain drug users are breaking
into homes in search of cash or goods they can sell in order to buy drugs. RCMP
members agree with this assessment. Community members tend to believe that with
current human resource levels, the police are not capable of stopping the break-enters and
thefts. Instead, they say the root problem – the trafficking and use of illegal drugs – must
Vandalism is growing worse in the eyes of community residents and is most often
attributed to three factors: the absence of recreational and other positive opportunities for
young people; an increasing abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs by youth; and an
increasing lack of parental control. Consultation participants view vandalism as a
policing problem to the extent they believe RCMP officers should be more visible and
should more actively deter this kind of behaviour. However, residents also see it as a
community problem for which parents and other community members should take
proactive responsibility. This would involve parents watching their children more
closely, and working together to provide recreational opportunities.
4.3.6 Impaired and Dangerous Driving
Impaired driving was frequently raised in the consultations, particularly in Yukon and
NWT communities with a public bar. Participants often stated the view that the presence
of police officers in bars, especially just before closing, would have an effect on drinking
and driving. It was suggested officers could do a walk-through in the bar and wait in
their cars in the parking lot as patrons exit. Further, they could follow-up with
breathalyser tests and arrests as appropriate. While police do these kinds of activities in
some communities, in many others residents do not see it happening. Residents believe
this would ideally be a regular part of policing, at least on Friday and Saturday nights. It
was also suggested that if police could be present at bar closing every night for at least
one week, then intermittently but reasonably often after the first week, they would have
an impact on impaired driving.
Community participants also identified dangerous driving as a serious concern. On the
Dempster Highway, for example, private automobiles and commercial trucks pass
through some communities in large numbers every day and night. The rate will increase
as the pipeline work proceeds. Community residents believe these vehicles are often
breaking the posted speed limit by significant margins, thereby endangering community
members. Residents would like to see a greater police presence on the highway, using
radar to help enforce the speed limit. Similarly, many communities in Yukon, especially
those located on highways, have serious concerns about the extent of speeding through
the communities, as well as the apparent inability of the police to deter it.
The RCMP is aware of the problem with speeding. In some communities, officers are
able to dedicate time to radar enforcement, although this is acknowledged as being
inadequate. With other, more pressing demands on the time of individual officers,
extensive radar enforcement is seen by the detachments as impossible. As well, certain
detachments have the responsibility to patrol long sections of highway on a regular basis,
which becomes a significant challenge when the detachment is frequently short staffed.
Participants in the community consultations frequently spoke about difficulty in
contacting their local detachment members. This is seen as a problem especially at night
(more or less between midnight and 6:00 am) when residents say most serious incidents
such as assault occur and when the detachment offices are usually closed. Calls for
assistance at night are automatically patched through to the RCMP call operations centre
in Whitehorse, Yellowknife or Iqaluit. Respondents, especially in the smaller
communities with three- or four-member detachments, also expressed concerns their
phone calls to the detachment office are often not answered even during the day but are
forwarded to the call operations centre. There is a high degree of frustration at calls
being transferred when people want to talk with a local police officer.
There are two concerns with central dispatch. First, people usually phone the police
during the night when they need immediate assistance. However, in many cases callers
find the dispatch operators ask too many questions and take too much time to be of help
in an emergency. People often hang up in frustration. Second, community residents
would prefer to speak with an officer whom they know and who knows them, their family
and the community. Many people view dispatch operators as distant and impersonal, and
therefore unable to understand or to be sensitive to local and family problems. In
Nunavut, an additional problem arises for unilingual Inuktitut speakers who are unable to
converse with the central dispatchers, most of whom only speak English.
The RCMP has implemented the central dispatch model in communities across Canada,
essentially to enable officers to rest at home. At least one officer is always on call and is
connected by radio to the central dispatcher who will make contact when the officer is
required to attend an incident. This is particularly relevant in the communities with
detachments of two or three members. In these smaller detachments, a 24-hour on-duty
presence would not be possible. In some communities, RCMP members have given their
home numbers to community residents and will take calls at home during the night. The
communities are appreciative of this level of commitment from their officers; however,
the officers concerned admit this can lead to unnecessary calls (unscreened by central
dispatch) and eventually to a higher risk of burnout due to lack of rest.
Many community residents are not aware of the reasons for the transfer of calls to central
dispatch. Yet even among residents who understand the reasoning, there is a belief the
issue needs to be resolved in a different way. In the consultations, the most common
solution identified by community respondents and police alike is to increase the number
of RCMP officers in the detachments, thereby enabling the detachment to staff its office
and take calls directly 24 hours per day every day.
An alternative, suggested by consultation participants, is for every detachment to hire one
or two “auxiliary members” from the community. These individuals could take calls
during the night and could, in turn, phone or radio the officer on call. Similarly, in cases
when a detachment clerk was not available to handle calls during the day, an auxiliary
could take calls for officers who might be on patrol or handling an incident. Residents
who raised this idea believe the local knowledge possessed by “auxiliaries” would serve
the police and the community better than the central dispatchers.
4.4.2 RCMP – Community Relations
Consultation participants spoke about the importance of police officers becoming
community members in their own right as individuals. Residents say some police
officers and their families integrate fully with the community, taking part in
extracurricular activities such as youth sports and community dinners. However, other
officers keep strictly to themselves when off duty. This is often perceived as a lack of
willingness to learn about the community and its residents, as well as a lack of sensitivity.
While there is variation on this question among communities and among residents of the
same community, it appears to be a significant concern.
Community residents, including elected officials and community workers, often
remarked they had never met one or more of the RCMP members from the local
detachment. This is seen as an indication that officers do not spend enough time in the
community patrolling or engaging with youth and other community members. It should
be noted, however, that community members acknowledged they did not normally
initiate contact with new RCMP members or make efforts to welcome them to the
community. When this discussion arose in consultations and meetings, people generally
thought it would be a good idea for communities to reach out to new officers. Further
discussion often led participants to think of including new teachers, nurses and other
professionals in welcoming events. In several communities in the three territories, the
welcoming process already occurs.
4.4.3 Social and Cultural Awareness
Community representatives frequently said RCMP members are not adequately aware of
the social issues facing individuals, families and communities. This lack of
understanding is perceived to affect the ability of some officers to demonstrate sensitivity
or to work effectively with community members. Community workers and residents said
many RCMP members are unfamiliar with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and
how to interact with people with this condition. As well, police officers are seen as
unsympathetic to the experiences many people endured in residential schools. The
legacy of residential schools is a debilitating reality affecting individuals and families,
and is closely connected with alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and FASD.
Consultation participants believe RCMP members should make more effort to understand
these realities in the interest of working more effectively with community residents.
Specific training was frequently identified as a first step.
Consultation participants raised the concern that RCMP officers often lack an
understanding of local First Nation and Inuit cultures, and small community dynamics.
This is not seen as surprising in view of the fact that cross-cultural training at Depot is
neither intensive nor specific to the communities where officers are posted. Similarly,
most RCMP members posted to northern communities come from southern Canadian
cities and have not had small community experience. The RCMP acknowledges, as well,
that members in the northern Divisions are relatively young overall, possibly making the
job of those officers more challenging.
Community residents believe most RCMP members require special training and
orientation with respect to local First Nation and Inuit cultures and small community
dynamics. Participants further emphasized the idea that officers require orientation with
respect to the specific communities in which they are serving. Many consultation
sessions addressed the perception that local knowledge would assist RCMP officers in
doing their jobs. For example, an understanding of traditional dispute resolution
processes could assist police in working with local Community Justice Committees. In
the absence of RCMP programs for such training, residents often discussed the possibility
of communities taking on the responsibility for training new officers upon their arrival in
the community. The training itself would address local First Nation and Inuit history,
values, customs, and views on dealing with interpersonal disputes and social problems.
4.4.4 Accountability to the Community
Local elected officials who attended the consultations9 said they normally receive
monthly status reports from local detachment commanders. However, elected officials
find the reports relatively unhelpful unless accompanied by a meeting with the
Detachment Commander, at least, and preferably with other officers as well.
In several communities, leaders expressed concern they rarely – if ever – meet with local
RCMP members to discuss community issues or priorities. This is seen as a missed
opportunity to work together on addressing community problems, perhaps even joint
program development. At the same time, Councils which have this concern said they did
not make special efforts to set up meetings with the local detachment. This is an area
where community leaders and officials, on one hand, and the RCMP, on the other, could
attempt to establish a more effective working relationship. Again, this applies only in
some communities; in others the leadership and the local detachment (usually the
Detachment Commander) have an effective working relationship based on quarterly
Elected officials who took part in the consultations expressed the view that, in addition to
regular meetings, they would appreciate informal visits by RCMP officers. Informal
visits are seen as opportunities for both police and officials to share information and to
keep current on community issues. Perhaps even more important, it is seen as useful for
RCMP members to drop into First Nation offices in Yukon and NWT, and Hamlet offices
in Nunavut to talk with program staff. Again, the informal sharing of information is
regarded as important, although it does not occur as often as it should.
Community respondents in the three territories often said that when RCMP officers are
actively engaged in planning, priority setting and regular consultations with other
community-based agencies, the results are positive. However, participants often
indicated this does not occur frequently enough. Most importantly this engagement
would include professionals such as social workers and school principals. It appears
interagency committees exist in some communities and that RCMP members participate
on an occasional, if not a regular basis. Community members stressed that, ideally,
police would work with other social agencies as the norm, whether or not a community
interagency committee exists.
Another frequently expressed concern of residents, especially parents and grandparents,
is that police officers in some communities are not advising them when their children are
In Yukon and NWT, elected officials attending the consultations included the Chief and Councillors from
several communities. In some cases in Yukon, non-First Nation Mayors and Councillors took part. In
Nunavut, elected officials, comprising Hamlet Mayors and Councillors, generally did not participate.
in trouble. People want to talk to police about their children. This is seen as an RCMP
responsibility which would both assist families and help to ensure good police-
4.4.5 Excessive Use of Force
The allegation of excessive police force arose occasionally in the consultations. This is a
difficult allegation to assess in a relatively informal process such as this. However, there
is no doubt individuals in many communities believe themselves or other community
members to have been the victims of excessive force by police. There appears to be
some misunderstanding between the RCMP and many community residents with regard
to the use of force, including tasers. The RCMP has not been clear on explaining police
protocols in this area. Community residents are left with no markers by which to judge
whether an officer has overstepped the limits in his/her use of force. Again, the
perception by residents that RCMP members sometimes use excessive force is hard to
assess – but it is a perception that exists among some community members.
4.4.6 Public Complaints
The question of public complaints regarding the RCMP is a matter of concern for some
community residents. While this naturally tends to be an issue raised by individuals who
have a particular issue for complaint, the consensus in consultations was that the process
is both unclear and ineffective. Several individuals said they had conveyed their
concerns about police actions in a particular incident to the detachment in their
community, others to Division Headquarters. As far as the complainants were concerned,
their complaints had not been dealt with in a serious and satisfactory manner.
4.5 Community Justice
4.5.1 Diversions to Community Justice Committees
There are active community justice programs in the NWT and Nunavut, where the RCMP
makes pre-charge diversions to Community Justice Committees in most communities.
The majority of the cases diverted involve relatively minor offences committed by youth.
Community Justice Committees are less active in Yukon, although Community Justice
Coordinators in some communities are accepting youth diversions from the RCMP and
playing a role in monitoring their progress.
Community members in the NWT and Nunavut believe community-based justice, as
managed by their Community Justice Committees, is a good thing. They also say the
police are generally doing an effective job of making referrals to the Committees.
However, many consultation participants said that the RCMP should refer more cases to
the Committees and that a broader range of both adult and youth offences (i.e., more
serious offences) could be handled by the Committees. This matter was raised most
frequently in the communities with strong Community Justice Committees. In other
communities, residents saw the value of increasing the number of diversions in the future,
but acknowledged their Justice Committees would need strengthening before this could
Significantly, representatives from many NWT and Nunavut communities said the extent
to which the RCMP diverts cases to local Community Justice Committees appears to
depend largely on the commitment of each individual officer to the concept of
community-based justice. Even in communities which regard themselves as having
experienced and effective Justice Committees, some officers are reluctant to divert
straightforward youth cases. Consequently, cases which could be handled locally result
in a charge and possibly a court hearing.
4.5.2 Communications and Cooperation
Community Justice Committees are seen as a good liaison point between the RCMP and
the communities and regular communication between the two groups would provide a
forum for several purposes. First it would enable the Committees to educate the RCMP
regarding community dynamics and issues. It would also provide the opportunity for the
RCMP and the Justice Committees to discuss plans and priorities for community
The view was also expressed that police would benefit from consulting the Community
Justice Committees for information on particular individuals (especially youth) and
families who are at risk of becoming involved with the justice system. Community
respondents see this as a way to ensure that police officers have a complete and fair
understanding of an individual’s background and family situation, in turn important for
providing fair treatment to people with problems.
In summary, communities want the RCMP to continue or increase diversions to
Community Justice Committees. They also see value in the RCMP and the Committees
maintaining ongoing communications for other purposes beneficial to both the RCMP
and the community.
4.6 Police Roles and Priorities
4.6.1 Standards and Selection of Officers
There was considerable discussion in the consultations about the kind of police officers
needed by communities in the territories.
First – and with very little variation – community respondents would see several
advantages in having more Aboriginal officers in Yukon and the NWT, and, especially,
more Inuit officers in Nunavut. Aboriginal officers are perceived as understanding their
culture and the dynamics of small northern communities, and are therefore better able to
relate to the issues facing residents. As well, people in the communities simply tend to
feel more comfortable dealing with a First Nation or Inuit police officer than with a non-
In Nunavut, the need for Inuktitut speaking RCMP members is seen as essential in
meeting the policing needs of communities.
Second, the point was often made that any police officer – whether Aboriginal or non-
Aboriginal – must meet certain character standards. RCMP members should only be
posted to territorial communities if they truly want to be there. This means the officer
should understand before being posted that the living conditions can be harsh from both
an environmental and a social (isolation) perspective. Further, it is essential that officers
posted to the communities be willing to take part in the community as residents in their
own right. It was often repeated in the consultations that the best officers were those who
presented themselves as “human beings” and as willing members of the community. This
willingness to be a community member involves a commitment to the youth of the
community, demonstrated through mutual trust and communication, as well as active
involvement in community events such as suppers, and in youth activities such as sports.
Third, communities expect their RCMP members to be effective in carrying out
traditional policing responsibilities. Most community respondents said public safety and
the enforcement of laws are the most important aspects of policing and, given the many
challenges of policing in the North, it is essential that police officers in the territories be
of exceptionally high calibre in this regard.
In light of community needs and expectations as described above, the consultations
contained a fairly clear message that communities should play a role in determining
which RCMP members are assigned to them. While some respondents said one or more
community representatives should actually participate in the selection process with the
RCMP, generally it was acknowledged this would not be possible. Instead, there was
some consensus regarding the idea that each community should be invited to provide
Division Headquarters with criteria which would be applied in the selection of every new
officer to be assigned to that particular community. This was suggested by community
participants as a way to help ensure the communities got the kind of police officer they
wanted, and that the officer, once living in the community, would be satisfied in his/her
own right. Clarity regarding community needs and expectations is seen as important in
maintaining good police-community relations.
4.6.2 Length of Postings
An issue often raised in the consultations concerns the length of individual officers’
postings in communities. A common comment was: “We just get to know them and
they’re gone.” Most commonly community residents want particular officers to stay
longer than the two or three years currently allotted. Communities reason that if the
officer is doing a good job, if he/she is liked by the community, and if he/she wants to
stay, then the RCMP should extend the posting. Residents believe more than two years
are required by RCMP members to get to know their communities. Individuals, families,
interpersonal dynamics, local culture and social issues must all be understood by officers
in order to enable their most effective job performance. Similarly, communities need
time to become familiar with an officer as an individual, and to help him/her integrate as
a community member.
5. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND MAIN MESSAGES
The following points are based on the information and views provided by participants in
the consultation process. The consultant’s role was to organize the findings, to identify
clear messages, and to frame those messages concisely.
Many of the concerns expressed are the responsibility of the RCMP to consider.
However, two previously noted caveats are warranted. First, as RCMP respondents
stressed, the RCMP has been operating under serious budget restrictions for several
years and there is no reason to believe this will change significantly. Second, some
concerns and suggestions expressed by consultation participants are directed not to the
RCMP alone, but also to communities and other stakeholders. Participants were clear
the solutions to community problems will involve everyone working together. The
problems are community problems, not just police problems.
Finally, it is worth noting again that the community consultations have demonstrated the
RCMP is the police service of choice in the territories. Communities believe
improvements are needed, but are not impossible to achieve. Since the time of the
consultations, the RCMP in each of the territories have been addressing many of the
5.2 Crime Prevention
• Community members who participated in the consultations are concerned about the
level of police visibility in their communities. Police visibility is perceived to be
decreasing over time, due to a variety of possible reasons. Residents believe if
officers patrol communities more regularly at night and during the day, there will be a
positive impact on crime prevention and levels of personal safety. Participants
frequently said more frequent community patrols will also enable the police to
establish good relations with community residents, especially young people.
• Community participants in the consultations were very clear that communities value
the efforts of RCMP members in working with children and youth. Events planned in
collaboration with community authorities, schools and youth workers are seen as a
positive contribution by police in helping youth find a healthy path, and in
contributing to crime prevention.
• Community participants strongly indicated their appreciation of RCMP programs
aimed at children and youth, and at the community generally. Programs such as
DARE, Neighbourhood Watch, and Citizens on Patrol were identified frequently as
having the potential to contribute both to crime prevention and to public safety.
These kinds of programs are seen by participants as an effective way for communities
and police to work together for the improvement of community life. Community
members would like to see more programming of this type.
• Participants stressed the importance of RCMP attempts to engage children and youth
in informational and preventative sessions in the schools (e.g., the DARE program).
Communities also see value in RCMP officers speaking informally to children and
youth in the schools. School principals and teachers could encourage this
involvement by RCMP officers.
• Community members view ongoing, informal contacts between RCMP officers and
youth as valuable for building mutual respect and understanding. The building of
positive relationships is seen as ultimately helping to reduce crime.
• Residents in the NWT believe it is important for the RCMP to prepare for possible
impacts resulting from the pipeline project. They want to be informed of those plans
and believe communities have a role in working with police to develop strategies.
5.3 Community Safety
• Consultation participants in many communities are concerned about the timing of
police responses to emergency calls, especially during the night. Community
members believe every call should be responded to as quickly as possible. Based on
information provided by RCMP members in the consultation process, it appears some
police officers are less clear on this point and, in some cases, exercise discretion in
responding to night calls.
• Community members who participated were very clear about the high level of
concern regarding drug trafficking and illegal drug use. This is seen as an area where
the RCMP and the communities could work cooperatively by jointly discussing the
problems and designing community-based strategies. This could be done on a
community-by-community basis, but participants were clear it must be taken
seriously for follow-up by both parties.
• Community residents are often unclear as to the legal requirements of the RCMP in
making drug arrests. Police and community members both indicated a protocol for
educating and informing community residents would be helpful.
• The problems associated with alcohol abuse are of grave concern to community
residents. This is also an area where police and communities believe cooperation
could more effectively address the issues. Participants indicated community
members could be supportive of the RCMP in their efforts and could volunteer to
assist police in their monitoring activities.
• Youth drinking is a serious problem from the community perspective. It is also an
issue on which participants believe community members and police could work
effectively together by monitoring youth and youth drinking parties. As well, RCMP
efforts to engage children and youth in informational and preventative sessions in the
schools is viewed positively by community members and could be encouraged by
principals and teachers.
• Property crime, especially break-enter and theft, are seen to be linked in large
measure to drug and alcohol abuse. From the community perspective, more arrests of
bootleggers and drug traffickers would help to control these problems. Vandalism
could be addressed in part by greater police visibility through more patrols and
informal contact with youth.
• Domestic violence is a serious problem throughout the North. The RCMP mandatory
charging policy is problematic in that community members are unclear and often
frustrated regarding police practices. In the first instance, community members
believe RCMP officers should respond to every domestic call, regardless of the time
of day or night, or where the call originated. Public safety is seen as the primary
issue and the primary responsibility of the RCMP.
• Consultation participants expressed concern that some RCMP members do not
understand the importance of establishing cooperative working relations with other
community professionals. While RCMP members usually attend interagency
committee meetings when requested, community workers stated in the consultations
there does not appear to be the degree of commitment needed from the police,
particularly on matters relating to domestic violence.
• Social workers and representatives of women’s groups who took part in the
consultations said RCMP officers should be given specialized training regarding
women’s issues, domestic violence, sexual assault, and Aboriginal community
dynamics prior to being posted to communities. They expressed concern that some
recent recruits were traumatized by the kinds of incidents they were expected to
handle in communities, and that some officers might become desensitized to the
plight of women victims. (This view was not confirmed by the RCMP.)
• Community residents are concerned about impaired driving. Participants stated their
belief that regular police walk-throughs of bars before closing time are effective, as is
time spent by officers waiting in their vehicles in bar parking lots in the evening and
at closing time.
• Residents who participated believe police patrols of bars and bar parking lots in the
evening and at closing time have a significant impact on drinking and driving.
Participants said these activities could have a positive effect if done nightly for one
week and regularly after the initial week.
• Nunavut residents are concerned about the operation of snow machines while the
driver is impaired. Public education by police, as well as greater police visibility are
seen as ways to address the problem.
• Residents are concerned about the extent of speeding that takes place on NWT and
Yukon highways. Efforts by the RCMP to enforce speed limits, especially in
communities located on the highway, are viewed positively.
5.4 Communications and Accessibility
• Community participants frequently expressed concern with the RCMP system of
central dispatch in Whitehorse, Yellowknife or Iqaluit as the only means of taking
after hours calls. Community residents find the system to be slow and somewhat
frustrating when they are calling for an emergency response. People prefer talking to
a local police officer. This is a difficult issue for the RCMP because they point out
that current staffing levels do not permit detachment offices to stay open 24 hours
per day. At this point there does not appear to be a clear solution to the problem.
Community suggestions included hiring auxiliary members to work the detachments
telephones during the night shift.
• Community members said phones in some detachment offices often go unanswered
even during the day, depending on the operational situation facing officers at any
given time. Again, according to the RCMP, this is a challenge in light of current
staffing levels. Community participants suggested the ideal situation would be to
have a public servant answering phones in every detachment during office hours.
• Elected community officials appreciate receiving monthly reports from local RCMP
detachments. These reports contain statistics on local criminal and other activity for
the previous month. However, there appears to be slippage as some community
authorities indicated in the consultations they do not receive the reports on a regular
• Quarterly meetings between the Detachment Commander and elected community
officials are viewed as an effective opportunity to discuss issues of concern to the
community and ways to address those concerns. It is the responsibility of the
Detachment Commander and the local authorities to set up, attend, and follow up on
these meetings. Many community authorities would like to have meetings more
frequently than every three months.
• Mental health issues are of great concern to community residents and to the mental
health service providers who participated in the consultations. They stressed the
importance of RCMP officers communicating and collaborating with mental health
professionals through regular meetings and planning. Mental health workers also
expressed the view that RCMP members require training on FASD and the effects of
residential schools with respect to both recognition of the conditions and the handling
of individuals with these conditions.
• Community participants expressed concern about the lack of clarity regarding the
RCMP public complaints process. Residents said they would welcome any efforts by
the RCMP to help ensure that community residents understand the existing
complaints options available to them.
5.5 Community Justice
• Communities believe the role of Community Justice Committees to be effective in
handling offenders and victims, and valuable in strengthening community and culture.
Communities are interested in expanding the role of Community Justice Committees.
This would involve more referrals from the RCMP, including more serious cases for
both adult and youth offenders. However, not all communities believe their
Committees are presently ready to make on more serious cases and will need to do
their own developmental work first.
• The Community Justice Committee is viewed as an appropriate liaison point between
the police and the community. Regular contact would enable Committees to educate
the police regarding community dynamics and issues, including relevant information
on individuals (especially youth) and families at risk. Ongoing communication
between the RCMP and the Community Justice Committees would also provide an
opportunity to discuss plans and priorities for community initiatives.
5.6 Police Roles and Priorities
• While communities see the most important characteristic of an RCMP officer as
his/her ability to protect the public, communities would also like to see more
Aboriginal officers throughout the territories.
• In Nunavut, the need for Inuit officers with the ability to speak Inuktitut is seen as
essential in meeting the policing needs of communities.
• Communities want their RCMP members to be community members as well as police
officers. Participants in the consultations therefore view every effort by RCMP
officers to involve themselves informally in community life as a positive step in
maintaining good police-community relations.
• Concern was expressed by many community participants that they had never met
their local RCMP members. It was often agreed in community sessions it is the
responsibility of both the Detachment Commander and the community to ensure
recently arrived officers meet elected community officials, community workers, and
the general public.
• Community participants expressed the view that communities could take the
responsibility to ensure that very soon after arrival in the community, new officers are
welcomed and given an orientation to the community, its history, its culture, its
problems and aspirations, its approaches to problem solving, and its unique dynamics.
• Community members frequently expressed the belief that many RCMP officers
require more cultural sensitivity training than they receive at Depot. Participants also
believe cultural training would be of greater benefit to the individual officer, and
therefore to the community, if it were tailored to local cultures and issues. Again,
community participants indicated this is, in part at least, a community responsibility
and an opportunity for communities and the RCMP to work together.
• Community participants often expressed the belief that some RCMP officers are not
suited to living and working in small northern communities. Residents see it as
important for the RCMP to make individual officers aware of the challenges inherent
in working in northern communities, and to screen individuals before posting them to
the communities. Communities indicated an interest in having the opportunity to
provide Divisional Headquarters with a list of community oriented criteria to be used
in the selection of officers.
• Many community participants expressed the view that they want their local officers to
remain in their communities longer than the typical two or three year posting.
Communities believe it takes at least two years for an officer to get to know the
community, and for the community to know and respect the officer. In cases where
both the community and the officer agree the posting should be continued, this would
be the community’s preference. Many RCMP members who participated in the
consultation process agreed with this idea.